Note from JWR:

My thanks to all of the recent Ten Cent Challenge subscribers. I’m glad to see that so many of you find SurvivalBlog informative, useful, and worthy of support. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary, but an increasing number of readers are being noble and signing up for the Ten Cent Challenge. Some of you that are “secret squirrels” just mail cash or anonymous money orders, with no return address. That is appreciated just as much. My sincere thanks!

Letter Re: Any Utility in Caltrops or Tire Spikes for Retreat Defense?

How do you rate caltrops for retreat defense? Would they flatten tires quickly enough to be useful? Perhaps on a long driveway? Thanks, – LKP

JWR Replies: Caltrops have been used as a defensive measure for centuries. I have my doubts about their utility in daylight, but they might prove useful at night. To be useful in daylight for defense against vehicle-borne looters approaching a retreat slowly, caltrops or tire spikes would have to be concealed, which is a huge legal liability. Because we live in very litigious times, I DO NOT recommend using caltrops or tire spikes in in anything but an absolute worst-case TEOTWAWKI situation, where you are completely on your own to defend your retreat, and there is no longer a functioning law enforcement or court system. Using them in any lesser situation is an invitation to a hugely … Continue reading

Letter Re: Lead From Car Batteries–Can it Be Recycled Into Cast Bullets?

In relation to the question about casting bullets from battery lead: There are a few things you need to keep in mind when dealing with things like old batteries and such. The first is, when lead-acid cells are drained, the metallic lead is converted into lead sulfate. So the ideal battery to use for this is one which is fully charged. I suppose it is technically possible for you to take an uncharged battery, and cook the plates down with a dry base such as sodium hydroxide (mineral wood ash–pour water through wood ashes, remove solids will give you some hydroxide salts KOH/NaOH) and then you are likely to get anything not reduced off as dross.
The other issue is, most batteries have some pretty strange alloy compositions. In many cases antimony, calcium, and strontium are added to the lead to improve it’s structural qualities. While antimony … Continue reading

Note from JWR:

Please consider writing an article for Round10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day “gray” transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel Patriots as “honorable mention” awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which began on April 1st and ends May 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Storing Oil and Lubricants for TEOTWAWKI

The recent discussion of firearms lubrication reminded me about a subject that I’ve meant to address again in SurvivalBlog: oil and lubricant storage for your retreat.  It is important to think through all of your oil and lubricant needs–everything from motor oil and transmission fluid to firearms lubes. Calculate what you use in a three to five year period, and stock up.  Then anticipate what you might need for barter and charity, and stock up even more. Because most families do not store any substantial quantity of oils and lubricants, they will make an ideal barter item in a long term Crunch.

One lubricant that is often overlooked in retreat logistics planning is two cycle engine fuel mixing oil. I predict that this will be like gold, post-TEOTWAWKI, since there aren’t any decent substitutes. When TSHTF, suddenly everyone will be using their chainsaws a … Continue reading

Letter Re: Keeping Firearms Functioning in Extreme Cold Temperatures

Hi Jim,
Greetings from Ohio. As a former NCO in Her Majesty’s Canadian Forces, and a Winter Warfare instructor to boot, I’d like to suggest some additions to your excellent post regarding extreme cold weather firearms.
While having the proper lube is of high importance do allow me to suggest that some basic handling techniques are of equal importance.
Most importantly never bring your weapon near a heat source while operating in the deep cold. This is the most common mistake we would repeatedly see on operations. If you seeking shelter in any heated building/tent or so forth – leave the weapon outside. Properly covered up to protect from the elements.
This may seem contrary to all good tactical sense but any weapon brought in from the cold to the heat starts to sweat immediately, and unless you can guarantee you will have hours … Continue reading

Letter Re: Dry Hypochlorite (Pool Shock) Bleach for Disinfecting Water

Mr R.:
Your blogs’ post on Ca++ hypochlorite as a stable disinfectant stock for water treatment was golden advice.
I had some liquid chlorine bleach stored. It actually eroded out through the bottom of the plastic container. It dripped down and ate through steel mess trays underneath. Eroded completely. I remembered that chlorine is an oxidizer, and will do damage – duh ! – to organic material … hence it’s value as an antibacterial/anti-parasitic treatment. Cleaning up the dried bleach was irritating to eyes and airways. Again – duh ! – as terrorists in Baghdad have made evident.
Fortunately other gear was inside contractor bags/plastic crates, and damage was minimal. But, the lesson learned was great. And contractor bags are worth every penny. They are in all our fannies, bags, and packs
CERT protocols call for isolating / separating potentially caustic/toxic/flammable chemicals. Good advice.
Continue reading

Letter Re: Judging Soil Quality When Selecting a Retreat Property

Mr. Editor:

My wife and I are nearing retirement and we are considering buying a piece of land for both our retirement home and for our retreat if the times get “interesting.” This land is in Oklahoma, which currently has reliable rains but was “Dust Bowl” country, back in the [19]30s. How can I know for sure whether or not the soil is still good, or if it is “played out”? Thanks, – B.K.

JWR Replies: You’ve raised an important issue. The importance of soil quality in the event of a true “worst case” should not be overlooked. As S.M. Stirling so aptly described it in his science fiction novel “Dies The Fire“, soil quality is not crucial in modern mechanized agriculture. If an acre of ground produces 5 bushels of wheat versus 12 bushels of wheat, it is not of great consequence when you are cultivating hundreds … Continue reading

Survivalist “Vacation” and Gaining Medical Knowledge

I just returned from my ‘vacation’. A day spent with top gunmaster Len Baxley and 3 days at the Medical Corps training.
Both are highly recommended. Baxley easily doubled my speed and got me to the point where I could make 95 yard shots at a torso sized plate with a Glock 19. This may not seem like much to some of you, but for me it was unthinkable before I saw him. At $50 an hour you’re getting the deal of a lifetime. Then I went for the medical training. At $325 for 3 days it’s another great buy. I learned about how to stitch a wound, set and take off a cast, pain management, pull a tooth, maintain a sterile surgical environment among other things.

As I think back to the times I’ve needed medial attention for me or my family, they fall … Continue reading

Letter Re: Best Sources for Extra FN-FAL Magazines?

Hi James,
I am looking at purchasing some FN-FAL (metric) magazines and would like to know which are the best ones to buy? – John Y.

JWR Replies: As I mentioned in my FN-FAL/L1A1 FAQ, nearly all of the government issue 20 round metric FN-FAL magazines on the market were made on Belgian (FN) tooling, and work fine. (Such as Israeli, Brazilian, Argentine, et cetera.) Even used FAL magazines work fine if they have no dents. Since they are the most fragile part of the rifle and a large number of magazines might be needed WTSHTF, I now recommend buying at least 25 magazines per rifle. That might sound excessive, but I tend to look at retreat logistics from the imagined perspective of my yet-to-be-born grandchildren. I am confident that someday they will stand by my gravestone and thank me for … Continue reading